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It’s Funny because it’s True: The Role of Comedy in the Alternative Media

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  1. Introduction
  2. I get my news from a fake anchor: Comedy news programs
    1. Jon Stewart's The Daily Show
    2. The Colbert Report: The guise of a political platform
    3. Mustering a positive reaction
  3. All the fake news thats fit to print: Satire newspapers and cartoons
    1. Print media's use of comedy as a way of expressing a political viewpoint
    2. Political cartoons in print media
  4. Make them laugh: The link between comedy and the alternative press
    1. Comedy being used by the disenfranchised
    2. Video as a way to get the point across quite succinctly
  5. No one will take you seriously: The problems with political comedy
    1. The lack of 'non white' correspondents on The Daily Show
    2. The panel discussion at the WAM conference
  6. But the couch is so comfortable: The first step
  7. Works cited

Humor is a powerful tool that can be harnessed by the alternative media in an effort to give a voice to the disenfranchised and to attract an audience for alternative thought. For the purposes of this project, ?alternative media? is an amorphous term that can be applied to any media that is owned by an independent company rather than a mainstream corporation or media that gives significant attention to views not normally expressed by that of the mainstream. This project will examine the uses and reactions to comedy in the alternative media, as well as study the alternative media that use comedy as a way to usurp the mainstream media's hold on the way news is delivered and discussed. These forms will include television, such as news spoof shows The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and printed sources, such as the satirical newspaper The Onion and several alternative political cartoons.

[...] The viewing public and the CNN network executive were forced to agree with his assessment. This may be one of the most blatant examples of how political comedy can affect the mainstream media in a way that might make more room for alternative viewpoints. As an aside, it turns out that Carlson's arguments about the lack of hard- hitting news on The Daily Show were not only irrelevant, but untrue. Indiana University has recently announced a new study conducted by Julia R. Fox, an assistant professor of telecommunications. [...]


[...] It would certainly be nice if, after every episode of The Colbert Report or every glance at a Minimum Security cartoon, the viewer took those punch lines and turned them into positive political change. But these vehicles for laughter don't offer concrete ways to do that. Laughing at the mainstream is the first step; realizing the inherent failings in our media is the first step; taking part in the mockery is the first step. The next step is tricky, vague, and has many paths. If these types of comedy weren't available, I believe there would be a void in American media that would be incredibly detrimental to the alternative press. [...]


[...] After analyzing the coverage each afforded the 2004 presidential election, Fox concluded that the average amount of substance in the mainstream news show was significantly different? from Jon Stewart's program. In other words, Daily Show viewers came away with just as much information about the election as viewers of major network news, completely corroborating Stewart's position in the Crossfire interview. While a tangible link seems to exist between comedy and the alternative press, there are repercussions to such a relationship. [...]

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